Antipater (in Greek Αντίπατρος; lived c. 397 BC–319 BC) was a Macedonian general and a supporter of kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. In 320 BC he became regent of all of Alexander's empire.
Career under Philip and Alexander
Nothing is known of his early career until 342 BC, when he was appointed by Philip to govern Macedon as his regent while the former left the country for three years of hard and successful campaigning against Thracian and Scythians tribes, which extended the limits of Macedonian rule as far as the Hellespont. In the meanwhile in 342 BC he acted so to keep the Athenians at bay: when they tried to assume control of the Euboean towns and expel the pro-Macedonian rulers, Macedonian troops were sent to stop the attempt. In the autumn of the same year Antipater was at Delphi, as representative of Philip in the Amphictyonic League, a religious organization in which Macedon had been admitted just in 346 BC.
After the triumphal Macedonian victory at Chaeronea in 338 BC, Antipater was sent as ambassador to Athens (337–336 BC) with the finality of negotiating a peace treaty and bringing home the bones of the Athenians who had fallen in the battle.
He started as a great friend to both the young Alexander and the boy's mother, Olympias; there were even rumours that he was Alexander's true father. He aided Alexander in the struggle to secure his succession after Philip's death, in 336 BC.
He joined Parmenion in the ineffectual advice to Alexander the Great not to set out on his Asiatic spedition till he had provided by marriage for the succession to the throne; and, on the king's departure, 334 BC, he was left regent in Macedonia and made "general (strategos) of Europe", positions he was to full till 323 BC. Even if he did not participate to the great campaign, even the European front was to prove intially quite agitated, and Antipater did also have the duty to send reinforcements to the king, as he did while the king was at Gordium in the winter of 334–333 BC.
The Persian fleet under Memnon and Pharnabazus was apparently a considerable danger for Antipater, bringing war in the Aegean sea and threatening to bring war in Europe. Luckily for the regent, Memnon died while intent in the siege of Mytilene in the isle of Lesbos and the remaining fleet disintegrated in 333 BC, after Alexander's victory at Issus.
The Spartans, who were not members of the League of Corinth and had not participated in Alexander's expedition, saw in the Asian campaign the long attended chance to resume control over the Peloponnese after the disastrous defeats of Leuctra and Mantinea. The Persians generously funded Sparta's ambitions, making possible the formation of an army 20.000 strong. After assuming virtual control of Crete Agis tried to build an anti-Macedonian front. While Athens remained neutral, the Achaeans, Arcadians and Elis became his allies, with the important exception of Megalopolis, the staunchly anti-Spartan capital of Arcadia. Agis started in 331 BC to besiege the city with all his army, generating great allarm in Macedon.
So to not have two enemies contemporarily, Antipater pardoned Memnon and even let him keep his office in Thrace, while great sums of money were sent him by Alexander. This helped to create with Thessalian help and many mercenaries a force double that of Agis, which Antipater in person leaded down the south in 330 BC to confront the Spartans. In the spring of that year the two armies clashed near Megalopolis, and Agis fell with many of his best soldiers, not without inflicting heavy losses to the Macedonians.
Utterly defeated the Spartans went to Antipater to plead for peace; the latter's answer was to treat the peace terms directly with the league of Corinth, but the Spartan emissaries preferred to treat directly with Alexander, who imposed on Sparta's allies a penalty of 120 talents and the entrance of Sparta in the league.
Alexander appears to have been quite jealous of Antipater's victory; in a letter reported by Plutarch, the king writes to his viceroy: "It seems, my friends that while we have been conquering Darius here, there has been a battle of mice in Arcadia".
Antipater was disliked for supporting oligarchs and tyrants in Greece, but he also worked with the league of Corinth built by Philip. His regency was greatly troubled by the ambition of Olympias, with whom his previously close relationship had vastly deteriorated. Whether, however, from jealousy or from the necessity of guarding against the evil consequences of the dissensions between Olympias and Antipater, the latter was ordered to lead into Asia the fresh troops required by the king, 324 BC, while Craterus, under whom the discharged veterans were sent home, was appointed to the regency in Macedon, but Antipater was able to forestall the transference of power when Alexander suddenly died in Babylon (323 BC).
The fight for succession
The new regent, Perdiccas, left Antipater in control of Greece. Antipater faced revolts in Athens, Aetolia, and Thessaly that made up the Lamian War, in which south Greeks attempted to re-assert their independence. He defeated them at the Battle of Crannon in 322 BC, with Craterus' help, and broke up the rebellion. As part of this he imposed oligarchy upon Athens and demanded the surrender of Demosthenes, who committed suicide to escape capture. Later in the same year Antipater and Craterus were engaged in a war against the Aetolians when he received the news from Antigonus in Asia Minor that Perdiccas contemplated making himself outright ruler of the empire. Antipater and Craterus accordingly conclude peace with the Aetolians and went to war against Perdiccas, allying themselves with Ptolemy, the satrap of Egypt. Antipater crossed over to Asia in 321 BC. While still in Syria, he received information that Perdiccas had been murdered by his own soldiers. Craterus fell in battle against Eumenes (Diodorus xviii. 25-39).
Regent of the Empire
In the treaty of Triparadisus (321 BC) Antipater partecipated to a new division of Alexander's great kingdom. He appointed himself supreme regent of all Alexander's empire and was left in control of Greece as guardian of Alexander's son Alexander IV and brother Philip III. Having quelled a mutiny of his troops and commissioned Antigonus to continue the war against Eumenes and the other partisans of Perdiccas, Antipater returned to Macedonia, arriving there in 320 BC (Justin xiii. 6). Soon after, he was seized by an illness which terminated his active career, and died, leaving the regency to the aged Polyperchon, passing over his son Cassander, a measure which gave rise to much confusion and ill-feeling.
Though the debate surrounding the cause of Alexander's sudden death has never been clearly resolved, all of our ancient sources—even those who reject the notion of murder and assign the death to natural causes—mention that rumours abounded in the late fourth century BC that Antipater had been responsible for poisoning the great king. Shortly before Alexander's demise, Antipater's position had recently come under threat, as Alexander's mother Olympias had been writing to her son that Antipater was fomenting unrest and disloyalty in Macedon. Alexander had summoned him to Babylon to answer these charges, but, citing his fear of an uprising in Greece, he had sent his son Cassander in his place. Cassander—so the rumour goes—then had his younger brother Iollas, Alexander's butler, poison the king. Plutarch, who does not believe that Alexander was murdered, cites as the authority behind these rumours one Hagnothemis, who overheard Antigonus discuss the matter.
- Smith, William (editor); Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, "Antipater", Boston, (1867)
- Phillips, Graham Alexander the Great: Murder in Babylon Virgin Books (2004) ISBN 1852271345
- Robin Lane Fox Alessandro il Grande Einaudi (2004) ISBN 8806172506
- Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition (1911)
- Antipater from Livius.org (Jona Lendering)
- Wiki Classical Dictionary: Antipater
- Antipater by RS Bennett
Peithon and Arrhidaeus
|Regent of Macedon